Everybody's susceptible to the idea of a figure stepping out of a picture, and asserting itself--as Morgan the gnomish woodcutter does here, to the shock of painter Frederic--and Carrick has the technical skill to make such a happening credible, at first sight. But, far from taking off into realms of fancy, the situation is immediately sabotaged by literalness and artsiness: ""Every artist's studio has a spirit, say Morgan to Frederic, ""and I'm the spirit of yours. You have been seaching for your own way to paint what you feel. Perhaps I can help you."" And apart from a running joke about Morgan's eating better in his painted quarters than Frederic does in his studio (and a near-drowning incident), the story has to do with how Morgan guides Frederic's development as a painter and then steers him away from repeating his successes. Built in is a hoary view of a philistine art-world (the ambiance is vaguely late Victorian), which leads to Morgan's concluding injunction to Frederic: ""TRUST WHAT YOU LIKE, NOT WHAT THEY WANT."" In his other work--the books about Angus and the cat, the stories about Christopher--Carrick has given reality a suggestive reach; this is the unreal, loaded with trite, second-hand sentiments.